Death for kidnappers, 15 years for ransom payers in new Senate bill

File copy: two kidnappers arrested in 2021 by Osun Police Command

File copy: two kidnappers arrested in 2021 by Osun Police Command

Nigeria’s Senate on Wednesday passed a bill imposing jail terms of at least 15 years for paying a ransom to free someone who has been kidnapped.

The bill also makes abduction punishable by death in cases where victims die.

The passage followed the adoption of the report of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters at plenary on Wednesday.

Presenting the report, Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central) said the bill sought to outlaw the payment of ransom to abductors, kidnappers and terrorists for release of persons who had either been wrongfully confined, imprisoned or kidnapped.

According to the lawmaker the overall import of the bill is to discourage the rising spate of kidnapping and abduction for ransom cases in Nigeria, fast spreading across the country.

He said that in the memoranda presented to the committee, plethora of issues relating to the subject matter of terrorism and terrorism financing in line with global best practices were raised.

Bamidele assured that the amendment bill would set standards and regulatory system intended to prevent terrorist groups from laundering money through the banking system and other financial networks.

He added that having policies in place to combat financing of terrorism would surely either reduce or eliminate privacy and anonymity in financial and other sundry transactions as it related to the subject in the society.

The lawmaker said further that the need to comprehensively review the Terrorism Prevention Act arose from the unfavourable ratings of Financial Act Task Force (FATF) recommendations of Nigeria’s Mutual Evaluation Report.

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“And the consequent placement of Nigeria in FATF’s International Cooperation and Review Group Process with its impending sanctions on Nigeria’s economy.”

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said that the bill would complement the Federal Government’s efforts in the fight against insecurity when signed into law by the President.

“It is our belief here in the Senate, that this bill, by the time it is signed into an Act by Mr President, will enhance the efforts of this government in the fight against terrorism, kidnapping and other associated and related vices.

“This is one piece of legislation that can turn around not only the security situation in Nigeria, but even the economic fortunes of our country.

“We have done so much as a government in terms of infrastructural development across all parts of this country but because security situation is not the kind of situation that we all want, this tends to overshadow all the tremendous and massive developments in our country.

“It is our belief that the Executive will waste no time in signing this bill into law,” he said.

The Senate, thereafter, adjourned plenary until May 10, for Sallah break.

The bill will be debated in the lower House of Representatives before being sent to President Buhari to sign into.

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